The Obama administration has announced it will drop HIV from the list of diseases that prevent visitors from entering the country, beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.
The ban was first introduced in 1987 and, among other things, required those who aspired to immigrate to the U.S. to submit to HIV testing.
In announcing the step, President Obama said that "we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease, yet we have treated a visitor living with it as a threat," quoted by the Voice of America.
He also added that it was inconsistent with America’s status as a leader in research on AIDS and its efforts to stem the pandemic to bar people who are HIV-positive from entering the country.
The move was praised by interest groups such as The Lesbian & Gay Foundation from the UK whose representative Andrew Gilliver expressed his hope that "by lifting the negative stigma associated with the ban, hopefully this long overdue move will inspire others to fight HIV stigma in a similar way."
The foundation has cited data from the advocacy group Immigration Equality which suggest that 11 other countries ban HIV-positive travelers and immigrants, and they include Armenia, Brunei, Iraq, Libya, Moldova, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Sudan.